03 August 2012

Research to support better  and safer use of medicines University of South Australia researchers have been granted $2.5 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council to support research targeted at ensuring both medicines and medical implants are used more safely in the Australian community.

The five-year research project to be led by Associate Professor Libby Roughhead from UniSA’s Sansom Institute for Health Research, will tackle the costly problems of adverse events of medicines and failures, or adverse effects from medical implants and devices.

“Medicines make up a large part of the Australian health spend, more than $8 billion annually - so it is vital that we are using those dollars effectively – that we’re getting the best advantage from the pharmaceuticals we’re using,” Prof Roughead said.

“But what we know is, about two million people every six months experience an adverse reaction to medicines and this has a flow on. It leads to about 400,000 extra visits to the doctor and almost 200,000 hospitalisations a year.

“And we are finding the same with medical devices such as pacemakers and implants – they are great when successful and there is rigorous testing for high risk devices – but for a range of other devices greater monitoring of use in practice is required to ensure they are safe and effective.”

Prof Roughead says the research to be conducted through Centre for Research Excellence funding will examine health data for patterns and problems across the sector.

“We hope the work will help us to pick up a range of things – trends in adverse reactions to particular medicine combinations or families of medicines and any problems with types of implants or devices.

“It will mean for the first time we will have data that are up to date and wholly Australian so that we can support better health through the quality use of medicines in a local context.”

The funding for the project was announced today by Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek who released a package of 17 grants worth $42 million.

University of South Australia Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Høj says he is delighted with the announcement of the Centre of Research Excellence in post market surveillance of medicines and medical devices.

“UniSA has had a long term research capacity in this field with more than $15 million in federal support in the past decade.  This has produced valuable and influential work in the quality use of medicines, so it is great to win support to continue to develop a more sophisticated understanding of how we can better manage medicines in the community,” Prof Hoj said.

“I am delighted that today the Minister also announced that UniSA Professor of Cancer Epidemiology Professor David Roder AM, has been appointed to the NHMRC Council and as Chair of the NHMRC Prevention and Community Health Committee.

“Both of these outcomes are evidence of the University’s strong research capacity and reputation for excellence and authority in areas that are vital to the community.

“It is an extremely good result for the researchers and we are proud of their achievement.”  

Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au


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